How A Seattle Attorney Can Help with a Seattle Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one is a terrible and traumatic experience. However, when that loved one was taken entirely too early in their life, it can leave you with a lot of questions. Not only are you having to deal with the usual pain of a loss, including estate, probate court, large expenses, loss of income, final arrangements, family, and similar concerns, but you also have questions about what happened and if anyone may be at fault. Fortunately, working with a Seattle wrongful death lawyer can help you through the process, as well as advise you as to whether you may have a case for wrongful death.

How a Seattle Attorney Can Help with Wrongful Death in Seattle

Though you may not want to settle for any accident lawyer Seattle may show in its yellow pages, an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer who has experience with wrongful death cases can often provide sound advice on what your options are, how to proceed, and what information may need to be gathered for your case. However, there are many common questions we can answer without consultation. Below are the most common questions we’ve received at Craig Swapp & Associates.

What is considered wrongful death?

In Washington state, wrongful death is codified into law under the Revised Code of Washington, Title 4, Chapter 4.20, Section 4.20.010. This part of Washington law states:

(1) When the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person, his or her personal representative may maintain an action against the person causing the death for the economic and noneconomic damages sustained by the beneficiaries listed in RCW 4.20.020 as a result of the decedent’s death, in such amounts as determined by a trier of fact to be just under all the circumstances of the case.

(2) This section applies regardless of whether or not the death was caused under such circumstances as amount, in law, to a felony.

Though this can seem complicated, it simply means that the person who caused the wrongful death is liable for the loss, whether they were texting while driving and caused an accident, caused a problem with treatment in a hospital, or caused injury or death while committing a crime. 

How can I recover compensation?

Cases of wrongful death are handled through the court system, though the defendant in that case, typically the individual or entity that caused the death, may choose to offer a settlement out of court to avoid negative publicity, the risk of a larger award, or similar concerns. You are not required to accept a settlement offered by the other party and have the right to take your case to court. This provides you with an option for recovering lost wages, covering medical and final expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering due to your loss.

Who can sue for the wrongful death of a loved one?

In Washington state, the estate executor, who is named in a legal will, is generally the one who will sue for wrongful death. Though this is often a family member, it may be a family friend or more distant relation who handles the paperwork so that the family can focus on their loss and grieving. In cases where there is no will, the probate court system will often appoint an appropriate individual to act in this position. However, even though the executor or appointee is the one who is suing for wrongful death, any awards or damages are for the surviving family members of the deceased.

Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death

The statute of limitations, or the time frame in which a lawsuit for wrongful death is filed, is three years in Washington state. However, there may be some additional considerations in cases of medical malpractice. Under the Revised Code of Washington Section 4.16.350, the statute of limitations is:

Based upon alleged professional negligence shall be commenced within three years of the act or omission alleged to have caused the injury or condition, or one year of the time the patient or his or her representative discovered or reasonably should have discovered that the injury or condition was caused by said act or omission, whichever period expires later, except that in no event shall an action be commenced more than eight years after said act or omission.

This means you have three years from when the injury was caused, one year from when the patient’s representative discovered the injury was caused by medical malpractice, whichever happens later, but you cannot file for wrongful death more than eight years following the medical malpractice occurrence.

If you’ve lost a loved one due to wrongful death, you need a good Seattle wrongful death lawyer to protect your rights. At Craig Swapp & Associates, our experienced team is ready to help. Please contact us today to get started.

Written By: Ryan Swapp     Legal Review By: Craig Swapp